ways to be more inclusive

Ruchika Tulshyan is the founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy consultancy. She was also a business journalist, covering diversity and leadership for forbes.

Below, Tulshyan shares five key takeaways from her new book: Inclusion by design: An intersectional approach to creating a culture of inclusion at work. Listen to the audio version – read by Tulshyan himself – on the Next Big Idea app.

1. Inclusion requires intention – it doesn’t just happen.

In 2015, I read a statistic that explained all the confusion I felt as a black immigrant in America. The Public Religion Research Institute found that three quarters of white people in America do not have a black friend. For many Americans, the first time they meaningfully interact with someone of a different race is at work. This made it clear why I’d spent most of my corporate career feeling like an outsider in white-run organizations. A lot of people I worked with didn’t know what to think of me with a name like Ruchika and my unfamiliar accent.

Since then I have learned that inclusion requires intention and regular practice. It doesn’t happen by accident. We’re hardwired to be attracted to people like us, so we have to constantly disrupt our natural approach. We need to develop a clear awareness of who is represented, who is hired, promoted or considered a leader – and who is not.

It is impossible to correct what you cannot identify. To make meaningful progress we must look specifically at what exclusion looks like, and the experiences of women of color are key to this inquiry. Then it’s up to us to take the right steps to address these issues, from empowering women of color to taking personal action to be more inclusive.

2. Women of color must be at the center of all inclusion efforts.

In 1989, the incredible professor Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to describe how the exclusion of black women in the workplace was not only due to gender bias, but was compounded by racism. All of the women of color I interviewed shared how they had significantly more negative experiences compared to their white counterparts—even white women.

Shefali Kulkarni, a South Asian journalist, spoke about facing harrowing exclusion at work. None of her white colleagues were aware of the seriousness of her situation. Many women of color share the acute pain of being overlooked and underappreciated, of being invisible and hyper visible at the same time.

We urgently need change. Institutional changes such as corporate diversity programs are only one piece of the puzzle. Strategies must be intersectional to be effective, which means they must prioritize women of color because they carry the two largest and most visible marginalized identities in the workplace. Without an intersectional approach, change is incomplete at best, or unintentional at worst, creating cultures that discriminate against women of color while white women rise. Beginning by focusing on women of color who have other marginalized identities, our greatest opportunity is to include everyone in a complex, nuanced world.

Women of color are on track to become the largest majority of women in the United States by 2060. Non-white women are already a majority in the global context. Without focusing our voices, expertise and leadership on corporate diversity, we cannot make meaningful progress towards a more inclusive and innovative workplace and society.

3. Focus on culture Addnot culture fit.

Too many jobs focus on hiring people for culture fit. This framing is exclusive and biased, especially when it comes to executive hiring. If your organization is made up of white males, you will consciously or unconsciously engage in pattern matching to achieve “culture matching”. Tiffany Tate, a black woman who is a talent development expert, said she was turned down from a job she was overqualified for because she didn’t “culturally” fit into the all-white organization.

Look for culture instead Add. Address the missing perspectives and backgrounds in a targeted and honest manner. name them speak it out A clear understanding of who is missing helps executives articulate to recruiters that they need a racially and gender-specific roster. When interviewing people, they look for culture adjunct, not culture fit.

Think back to the last time you discussed whether someone is culturally appropriate. What made you fit? Or has it not made a culture fit? The more difficulty you have articulating why someone is or isn’t culturally fit, the more likely your judgment is biased.

Instead, try hiring people you haven’t represented before based on race, gender, educational background, experience, country of origin, languages ​​spoken, and other identities. Normalize search by add culture.

4. Build empathy by reading fiction.

I was discouraged by a study by Dr. Jamil Zaki of Stanford University, who found that there is an inverse relationship between privilege and empathy. That is, the more privileged you have, the harder it is to empathize with the experiences of others. Therefore, leaders need to develop empathy by constantly educating themselves and creating awareness of what different people have to deal with.

The Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley published phenomenal research on cultivating empathy. One of her research-backed recommendations surprised me: read fiction. Stories change us, and strong stories often stick in our minds longer than data. Search for stories from different cultures – written by authors of these Backgrounds.

When it comes to building your empathy muscle through fiction, there’s no shortage of award-winning literature, film, or theater that can help. As a child, I was an avid reader and often got lost in bookstores or libraries, much to my mother’s chagrin. But growing up in Singapore (a country with fewer than four million people when I lived there) I felt like I wasn’t exposed to the vastness of the world. Fiction became a necessary lifeline, and I was able to empathize with people who were very different from me.

Professionals sometimes over-index business books to become a better leader. Often the empathy we need is in the experiences of fictional characters. We feel less defensive when a story is fictionalized, and we can gain a deeper understanding of a situation through details, context, and descriptions that nonfiction books may lack.

I recently read three novels that had a strong influence on me: homecoming by Yaa Gyasi, Convenience store woman by Sayaka Murata and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia.

5. Cultivate cultural humility, not cultural competence.

Cultural competence is outdated. What we need is the cultivation of cultural humility. The difference is that cultural competence means learning about other cultures while maintaining the idea that your culture is dominant. This approach assumes that the way the non-dominant (non-white) culture goes about things is often annoying or exotic—a trait to conform to, not something to respect or learn from got to. Cultivating cultural humility means recognizing that you don’t know everything about someone else’s culture and that you can learn a lot from it. Cultural humility is especially useful for leaders who work with women of color.

A small but powerful way to cultivate cultural humility is to prioritize pronouncing a colleague’s name correctly. Cultural humility reminds us that all names have meaning to their owner, so stumbling upon an unfamiliar name for your own convenience or convenience is unacceptable. Or if we’re doing business in an Islamic country, for example, cultural competence would lead us to assume that women don’t shake hands with men. Cultural humility would guide us to observe specific practices in different countries, work cultures and local environments before adapting our behavior to the situation. Beware of cultural bias: remember that countries around the world have had female heads of state while the US has yet to have a female president.

Cultural competence is broad and fixed, while cultural humility allows for nuance and flexibility. It asks us to heed visual cues, not just verbal ones.

That article originally appeared on The next big ideas club Magazine and is reprinted with permission. ways to be more inclusive


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